DIY Cape Tutorial

My easy sew DIY cape - not the most complicated of projects but its a great project to give you a little boost!

My easy sew DIY cape - not the most complicated of projects but its a great project to give you a little boost!

In my last post I talked all about my Kim dress which I made for my friend's wedding. Near the end of making said dress I realised that it's winter. So it's pretty cold and I was making a dress with no sleeves... Hhhhmmm. So to go with said dress I also made this super sweet, super easy cape. 

The fabric is a lovely cotton and Lycra jersey knit in a wonderful navy colour which I purchased from Ditto fabrics in Brighton. It's nice and soft and not too stretchy. Perfect for this project. 

I made the collar using scraps of fabric from my summer Coco dress. I always hold to scraps of fabric just in case I might find a use for them. In this case it was a lucky save! 

I think the two fabrics go quite nicely together and show each other off really well - I love the contrast! 

Before I begin the tutorial though a disclaimer - I didn't actually intend to make a cape with this fabric. I went into Ditto fabrics looking for a ponte de roma fabric in navy to make the Brightside shrug pattern by Wendy Ward. Sadly the fabric in question wasn't in stock in the shop so I opted for the aforementioned fabric. Still just as lush! However, when I laid the pattern pieces out the fabric wasn't big enough for the neckband piece. I was distraught. 

So I thought on my feet and made said cape. 

Second disclaimer - the fabric I originally bought was in fact big enough for the shrug. I didn't pay much attention to the layout diagrams that Wendy had drawn. Turns out you could cut the neckband pieces in half and sew together. D'oh. Facepalm moment. Still, it turned out good in the end - I ordered the fabric I originally wanted online and made the shrug and still got a cape. That's a win for me!

So after all that, how did I make it? Well, it was really easy! The cape is essentially a circle skirt turned cape.

What you need

DIY cape tutorial tools
  • 1M-1.5M of fabric (see below)
  • fabric for collar
  • matching thread
  • scissors
  • measuring tape
  • pins
  • sewing machine with appropriate needle for project
  • hook and eye fastener 
  • paper, a ruler and pen for drafting the collar

Fabric choice

I used Lycra jersey knit in navy which is super soft. I would suggest a medium weight fabric for this particular project. You could use tweed or woollen fabric. I didn't feel that I needed a lining with my fabric, but you could choose to line yours if you wish. Just cut two cape pieces. 

I used 1M of fabric as that was all I had. However, I would recommend getting around 1.3- 1.5M. It all really depends how big you want the cape to be. 

What to do

DIY cape infographic

Firstly, decide the length of your cape. I measured from my neck to my wrist - 23" (I know I'm so international with measuring!). 

Presuming your fabric is washed and pressed, it's now time to get cutting. Fold your fabric into fourths by firstly, folding cut edge to cut edge (the sides that are cut at the fabric shop) and then by folding selvedge edge to selvedge (the finished edge of the fabric). 

Starting at the folded edge, place your tape measure in the corner of the cape and mark down your length measurement. In my case this was 23". Mark with a pin. Moving the tape measure like a compass, pin 23" in a semi-circle, ensuring you keep the start of the tape in the corner. 

DIY cape measuring

When you have finished, mark the neckline in the same way. This should be around 3-4" from the folded edge. 

Now cut using the pins as your guide.

Open out the cape and then cut a slit up the middle of one edge as the opening. Make sure your cape is laid out flat and only cut one part of the fabric!

Now it's time to make the collar. With your cape laid out flat, find the centre back of your neckline and mark with a pin. Grab a piece of tracing paper/ newspaper and trace the outline of the neckline finishing at the centre back.  

Mark the centre back on your pattern piece and label as 'cut on fold'. 

Next up, draw the rough outline of your collar. You could be as creative as you like here.  Curved rulers can help or you can freestyle. Whatever rocks your boat!

Then add a seam allowance. I used the standard 5/8". Don't forget to name your pattern piece and write 'cut 2' so you remember for next time. 

Place your pattern piece on your chosen fabric and cut out 2 pieces. Remember to place it on the fold of your fabric!

With right sides together pin the 2 collar pieces together and then sew the outside edges. 

Clip little notches into the curved edges of the collar and then turn right sides out. Use a 'pokey' tool such as a knitting needle or pencil to ease out the edges. Then press well. 

Find the middle of the collar and match this with the middle of the cape (wrong side of the collar to wrong side of the cape). Then pin the rest together and sew around the edge. 

Note: If you choose to line your cape, baste the collar piece to the cape and then pin the lining piece around all edges on top of this. Leave a gap around a couple of inches long to turn the cape right sides out. Then slip stitch the opening closed. No need for hemming!

Press the seam up towards the collar. You can understitch the seam allowance to the cape to help stop the collar rolling. 

Nearly there now - we need the hem the cape allllll the way round. Simply fold over the edge (about 1cm should do it) to the wrong side of the fabric and press with the iron and pin it down. Then sew the edges. I used a contrasting blue in a zig-zag to make the hem a bit of feature but you can do what you like. You could also add a decorative trim too. Go wild!

Finally, sew a hook and eye fastening at the top near your collar as a fastening. 

Now go swish around in your fancy new cape!